Ukulele Festival Hawaii Blog

40th Annual Ukulele Festival 2010–What a day!

A huge thank you to all the students, parents, musicians, staff, and other volunteers who made the 40th Annual Ukulele Festival such a wonderful event! Every year is a testament to the global popularity of the ukulele—proven by the vast range of places our musical guests come from. This year, we were happy to welcome first-time Festival guest Nico Salsac from France to our stage, alongside wonderful performers from Japan, California, and Hawaii. And we can’t forget our favorite Canadian ukulele player, James Hill, who is becoming a regular at the Festival for good reason. The crowd was amazed at his funky rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” replete with bass line and record scratch noises, done with “no special effects” besides just being plugged in. We were  blessed to have Tommy D’s running wit, Bryan Tolentino’s real home-grown musical talent, and Natalie Ai Kamauu’s soaring chicken-skin vocals come and join us at this year’s Festival. And we all know that the Ukulele Festival would not be the Ukulele Festival without our dear friends, Ohta-San and Herb Ohta, Jr. It is always an honor for Roy to share the stage with his mentor and ukulele master.

Also featured in the Hawaii ohana this year, to the delight of our students, was C &K. Our “Strummers” group had a blast sharing the stage with such charismatic and generous performers. Every now and then, either Cecilio or Kapono would turn around and smile at all the students of the “Band” strumming along behind them, and smile, direct a guitar solo, or playfully wink and grin—truly including everyone in the fun. And the crowd felt the magic too—we could tell from the rousing, unanimous “HANA HOU, HANA HOU, HANA HOU!”

By the way, we saw Henry Kapono filming the massive crowd and massive student ukulele band surrounding them on his iPhone while he was playing—any chance that’s been posted on the internet? :) :)

But there’s no doubt about it, the real stars of every Festival are our students, young and not-so-young, who practice so hard for this annual show—the “My Ukulele” group and their enthusiastic singing voices, our “Chit-Chat” group who really showed everyone what it meant to boogie, our “Over the Edge” group with their fast flying fingers, our courageous “Strummers” (C&K, wow!), and our “Band,” the advanced group that all our younger students aspire to join one day. We are very, very proud of all of you!

Jake Shimabukuro closed out the show this year with another of his ultra-charged performances. “Orange World” had him running up and down the steps of the bandstand, solidly backed by Noel Okimoto and Dean Taba—two musicians always ready to “bring it!” We also noticed some people in the audience sporting some shirts from Jake’s new charity organization , “Peace, Love, and Ukulele,” another inspiring example of the ukulele’s role in bringing laughter, love, and hope to the world.

One of the moments that captured the Festival for us happened near the end, when we all joined hands to sing “Hawaii Aloha.” A few of our performers returned to the stage to strum along. KYAS, one of our guests from Japan who played an impressively accurate medley of “Super Mario Bros.,” knew the song well and was calling out chords to Nico so he could play along too. There was something so neat about an ukulele player from Japan teaching an ukulele player from France how to play “Hawaii Aloha,” both following the lead vocals of the Danny Kaleikini, and everyone surrounded by hundreds of ukulele fans all linking hands. The ukulele truly has a unique ability of bringing people together.

Roy Sakuma keynote speaker at Oahu Community School for Adults

Oahu Community School for Adults to hold commencement tonight
Honolulu Advertiser
Ukulele teacher Roy Sakuma will deliver the keynote address.  Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Board of Education member Carol Mon Lee and Assistant Schools …

Maui Ukulele Festival in the News: October 18, 2009

A Day to Play at the Maui Ukulele Festival – The Maui News

Audio Interview with Roy Sakuma – Wendy Osher

Festival pays tribute to Hawaii’s favorite instrument – Lahaina News

4th Annual Maui ‘Ukulele Festival – Maui Weekly

Maui Ukulele Festival Feedback

ukefestDid you attend the Maui Ukulele Festival? We’d greatly appreciate your feedback. Please tell us about your experience in the comment section!

Ukulele Festival Hawaii participates in Macy’s Shop For A Cause

Ukulele Festival HFest 09. Photo Jayson Tanega.002awaii is participating in Macy’s Shop For A Cause event on Saturday, October 17, 2009

This exciting one-day-only sale supports non-profit organizations.  Ukulele Festival Hawaii will be at Pearlridge Macy’s from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm  selling $5 Macy’s shopping passes.  Every dollar benefits Ukulele Festival Hawaii.  With this pass, enjoy a day of spectacular discounts of 20% and 10% off most purchases and 25% off a single purchase (some exclusions apply), entertainment, special events and a chance to win a $500 shopping spree.

Mahalo for supporting Ukulele Festival Hawaii.     

4th Annual Maui Ukulele Festival

Sunday, OUkulele 1 Maui 2008ctober 18, 2009 from 1:00 – 6:00 pm at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.  FREE.  Bring the lawn chairs or roll out a blanket on the lawn to enjoy a full afternoon music featuring Ohta-san and Nando Suan, JOY (Nelly Toyama, Candyce Narimatsu, Daniel Baduria), Napalapalai, Richard Hoopii, The Hula Honeys, Hulu Lindsey with Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, Kamakakehau Fernandez, Kanekoa & Vince Esquire, Kalama Int. Band, Kamehameha School Ukulele Ensemble, Pennies from Heaven, and 11-yr. old Nick Acosta.

Enter to win ukulele give-aways from Kamaka, Koolau, KoAloha, Pono, Kanilea, Kala, Mele and MGM Ukulele.

Come and join us for fun, food and music with family and friends in true Hawaiian style.

Maui Ukulele Workshop

Roy.Kalama Intermediate School. 2008

Saturday October 17, 2009  Free ukulele workshop by Roy & Kathy Sakuma at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s McCoy Studio Theater  at 10:00 am.  Workshop participants are eligible to enter to win a finely crafted ukulele.  Come and Join us!

Graduating high school seniors, please see scholarship information

UFH Online Store Launched

ufest-tote-bag-thumbOur new online store for Ukulele Festival Hawaii merchandise has launched! Currently, you can purchase Ukulele Festival T-shirts and tote bags, as well as the 35th Anniversary Ukulele Festival DVD, and the Festival Theme Song CD, “Come and Join Us”, which won the 2004 Hawaii Music Award Best Single of the Year.

We also have a great shipping deal, with flat-rate shipping & handling ($10 US, $25 international) no matter how many items you order.

Visit the Ukulele Festival Hawaii Online Store